Learning from the best: researchers study the placenta to learn how to build new blood vessels

April 26, 2016

In terms of blood vessels, the placenta is one of the most impressive organs in the body. Connecting the fetus to the mother’s uterus, this organ has a massive network of blood vessels that would cover more than 50km – from Ottawa to Kemptville - if stretched out and lined up. So when scientists want to learn how blood vessels develop, what better place to look than the placenta? A new study led by Dr. Bernard Thébaud took this approach and found that the placenta contains two unique populations of cells that have different capacities to give rise to new blood vessels. This understanding could help with the development of new therapies for placenta-related conditions such as preeclampsia. Dr. Thébaud and his team also found that some of these placental cells may hold potential for treating certain conditions in premature babies. See Stem Cells Translational Medicinefor details.

Authors: Solomon I, O'Reilly M, Ionescu L, Alphonse RS, Rajabali S, Zhong S, Vadivel A, Shelley WC, Yoder M3, Thébaud B.

Funders: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Riley Children's Foundation, Molly Towell Perinatal Research Foundation, Alberta Innovate Health Solutions, Canada Research Chairs, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation

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